Thursday, February 28, 2008


There was once a young Hunter who went boldly into the forest. He had a merry and light heart, and as he went whistling along there came an ugly old woman, who said to him, 'Good-day, dear hunter! You are very merry and contented, but I suffer hunger and thirst, so give me a trifle.' The Hunter was sorry for the poor old woman, and he felt in his pocket and gave her all he could spare. He was going on then, but the old woman stopped him and said, 'Listen, dear hunter, to what I say. Because of your kind heart I will make you a present. Go on your way, and in a short time you will come to a tree on which sit nine birds who have a cloak in their claws and are quarrelling over it. Then take aim with your gun and shoot in the middle of them; they will let the cloak fall, but one of the birds will be hit and will drop down dead. Take the cloak with you; it is a wishing-cloak, and when you throw it on your shoulders you have only to wish yourself at a certain place, and in the twinkling of an eye you are there. Take the heart out of the dead bird and swallow it whole, and early every morning when you get up you will find a gold piece under your pillow.'

The Hunter thanked the wise woman, and thought to himself 'These are splendid things she has promised me, if only they come to pass!' So he walked on about a hundred yards, and then he heard above him in the branches such a screaming and chirping that he looked up, and there he saw a heap of birds tearing a cloth with their beaks and feet, shrieking, tugging, and fighting, as if each wanted it for himself. 'Well,' said the Hunter, 'this is wonderful! It is just as the old woman said'; and he took his gun on his shoulder, pulled the trigger, and shot into the midst of them, so that their feathers flew about. Then the flock took flight with much screaming, but one fell dead, and the cloak fluttered down. Then the Hunter did as the old woman had told him: he cut open the bird, found its heart, swallowed it, and took the cloak home with him. The next morning when he awoke he remembered the promise, and wanted to see if it had come true. But when he lifted up his pillow, there sparkled the gold piece, and the next morning he found another, and so on every time he got up. He collected a heap of gold, but at last he thought to himself, 'What good is all my gold to me if I stay at home? I will travel and look a bit about me in the world.' So he took leave of his parents, slung his hunting knapsack and his gun round him, and journeyed into the world.

It happened that one day he went through a thick wood, and when he came to the end of it there lay in the plain before him a large castle. At one of the windows in it stood an old woman with a most beautiful maiden by her side, looking out. But the old woman was a witch, and she said to the girl, 'There comes one out of the wood who has a wonderful treasure in his body which we must manage to possess ourselves of, darling daughter; we have more right to it than he. He has a bird's heart in him, and so every morning there lies a gold piece under his pillow.'

She told her how they could get hold of it, and how she was to coax it from him, and at last threatened her angrily, saying, 'And if you do not obey me, you shall repent it!'

When the Hunter came nearer he saw the maiden, and said to himself, 'I have travelled so far now that I will rest, and turn into this beautiful castle; money I have in plenty.' But the real reason was that he had caught sight of the lovely face.

He went into the house, and was kindly received and hospitably entertained. It was not long before he was so much in love with the witch-maiden that he thought of nothing else, and only looked in her eyes, and whatever she wanted, that he gladly did. Then the old witch said, 'Now we must have the bird-heart; he will not feel when it is gone.' She prepared a drink, and when it was ready she poured it in a goblet and gave it to the maiden, who had to hand it to the hunter.

'Drink to me now, my dearest,' she said. Then he took the goblet, and when he had swallowed the drink the bird-heart came out of his mouth. The maiden had to get hold of it secretly and then swallow it herself, for the old witch wanted to have it. Thenceforward he found no more gold under his pillow, and it lay under the maiden's; but he was so much in love and so much bewitched that he thought of nothing except spending all his time with the maiden.

Then the old witch said, 'We have the bird-heart, but we must also get the wishing-cloak from him.'

The maiden answered, 'We will leave him that; he has already lost his wealth!'

The old witch grew angry, and said, 'Such a cloak is a wonderful thing, it is seldom to be had in the world, and have it I must and will.' She beat the maiden, and said that if she did not obey it would go ill with her.

So she did her mother's bidding, and, standing one day by the window, she looked away into the far distance as if she were very sad.

'Why are you standing there looking so sad?' asked the Hunter.

'Alas, my love,' she replied, ' over there lies the granite mountain where the costly precious stones grow. I have a great longing to go there, so that when I think of it I am very sad. For who can fetch them? Only the birds who fly; a man, never.'

'If you have no other trouble,' said the Hunter, 'that one I can easily remove from your heart.'

So he wrapped her round in his cloak and wished themselves to the granite mountain, and in an instant there they were, sitting on it! The precious stones sparkled so brightly on all sides that it was a pleasure to see them, and they collected the most beautiful and costly together. But now the old witch had through her caused the Hunter's eyes to become heavy.

He said to the maiden, 'We will sit down for a little while and rest; I am so tired that I can hardly stand on my feet.'

So they sat down, and he laid his head on her lap and fell asleep. As soon as he was sound asleep she unfastened the cloak from his shoulders, threw it on her own, left the granite and stones, and wished herself home again.

But when the Hunter had finished his sleep and awoke, he found that his love had betrayed him and left him alone on the wild mountain. 'Oh,' said he, 'why is faithlessness so great in the world?' and he sat down in sorrow and trouble, not knowing what to do.

But the mountain belonged to fierce and huge giants, who lived on it and traded there, and he had not sat long before he saw three of them striding towards him. So he lay down as if he had fallen into a deep sleep.

The giants came up, and the first pushed him with his foot, and said, 'What sort of an earthworm is that?'

The second said, 'Crush him dead.'

But the third said contemptuously, 'It is not worth the trouble! Let him live; he cannot remain here, and if he goes higher up the mountain the clouds will take him and carry him off.'

Talking thus they went away. But the Hunter had listened to their talk, and as soon as they had gone he rose and climbed to the summit. When he had sat there a little while a cloud swept by, and, seizing him, carried him away. It travelled for a time in the sky, and then it sank down and hovered over a large vegetable garden surrounded by walls, so that he came safely to the ground amidst cabbages and vegetables. The Hunter then looked about him, saying, 'If only I had something to eat! I am so hungry, and it will go badly with me in the future, for I see here not an apple or pear or fruit of any kind--nothing but vegetables everywhere.' At last he thought, 'At a pinch I can eat a salad; it does not taste particularly nice, but it will refresh me.' So he looked about for a good head and ate it, but no sooner had he swallowed a couple of mouthfuls than he felt very strange, and found himself wonderfully changed. Four legs began to grow on him, a thick head, and two long ears, and he saw with horror that he had changed into a donkey. But as he was still very hungry and this juicy salad tasted very good to his present nature, he went on eating with a still greater appetite. At last he got hold of another kind of cabbage, but scarcely had swallowed it when he felt another change, and he once more regained his human form.

The Hunter now lay down and slept off his weariness. When he awoke the next morning he broke off a head of the bad and a head of the good cabbage, thinking, 'This will help me to regain my own, and to punish faithlessness.' Then he put the heads in his pockets, climbed the wall, and started off to seek the castle of his love. When he had wandered about for a couple of days he found it quite easily. He then browned his face quickly, so that his own mother would not have known him, and went into the castle, where he begged for a lodging.

'I am so tired,' he said, 'I can go no farther.'

The witch asked, 'Countryman, who are you, and what is your business?'

He answered, 'I am a messenger of the King, and have been sent to seek the finest salad that grows under the sun. I have been so lucky as to find it, and am bringing it with me; but the heat of the sun is so great that the tender cabbage threatens to grow soft, and I do not know if I shall be able to bring it any farther.'

When the old witch heard of the fine salad she wanted to eat it, and said, 'Dear countryman, just let me taste the wonderful salad.'

'Why not?' he answered; 'I have brought two heads with me, and will give you one.'

So saying, he opened his sack and gave her the bad one. The witch suspected no evil, and her mouth watered to taste the new dish, so that she went into the kitchen to prepare it herself. When it was ready she could not wait till it was served at the table, but she immediately took a couple of leaves and put them in her mouth. No sooner, however, had she swallowed them than she lost human form, and ran into the courtyard in the shape of a donkey.

Now the servant came into the kitchen, and when she saw the salad standing there ready cooked she was about to carry it up, but on the way, according to her old habit, she tasted it and ate a couple of leaves. Immediately the charm worked, and she became a donkey, and ran out to join the old witch, and the dish with the salad in it fell to the ground. In the meantime, the messenger was sitting with the lovely maiden, and as no one came with the salad, and she wanted very much to taste it, she said, 'I don't know where the salad is.'

Then thought the Hunter, 'The cabbage must have already begun to work.' And he said, 'I will go to the kitchen and fetch it myself.'

When he came there he saw the two donkeys running about in the courtyard, but the salad was lying on the ground.

'That's all right,' said he; 'two have had their share!' And lifting the remaining leaves up, he laid them on the dish and brought them to the maiden.

'I am bringing you the delicious food my own self,' he said, 'so that you need not wait any longer.'

Then she ate, and, as the others had done, she at once lost her human form, and ran as a donkey into the yard.

When the Hunter had washed his face, so that the changed ones might know him, he went into the yard, saying, 'Now you shall receive a reward for your faithlessness.'

He tied them all three with a rope, and drove them away till he came to a mill. He knocked at the window, and the miller put his head out and asked what he wanted.

'I have three tiresome animals,' he answered, 'which I don't want to keep any longer. If you will take them, give them food and stabling, and do as I tell you with them, I will pay you as much as you want.'

The miller replied, 'Why not? What shall I do with them?'

Then the Hunter said that to the old donkey, which was the witch, three beatings and one meal; to the younger one, which was the servant, one beating and three meals; and to the youngest one, which was the maiden, no beating and three meals; for he could not find it in his heart to let the maiden be beaten.

Then he went back into the castle, and he found there all that he wanted. After a couple of days the miller came and said that he must tell him that the old donkey which was to have three beatings and only one meal had died. 'The two others,' he added, 'are certainly not dead, and get their three meals every day, but they are so sad that they cannot last much longer.'

Then the Hunter took pity on them, laid aside his anger, and told the miller to drive them back again. And when they came he gave them some of the good cabbage to eat, so that they became human again. Then the beautiful maiden fell on her knees before him, saying, 'Oh, my dearest, forgive me the ill I have done you! My mother compelled me to do it; it was against my will, for I love you dearly. Your wishing-cloak is hanging in a cupboard, and as for the bird-heart I will make a drink and give it back to you.'

But he changed his mind, and said, 'Keep it; it makes no difference, for I will take you to be my own dear true wife.'

And the wedding was celebrated, and they lived happy together till death.

From Andrew Lang's Yellow Fairy Book

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The 1001 Nights

The 1001 Nights

Once Allah endowed a wealthy husbandman with the ability to understand the language of every kind of beast and bird, commanding him, under pain of death, never to divulge this gift. Fearing for his life, the husbandman guarded the secret well.

One day while observing his animals, he heard a bull say to a donkey, "Lucky one, you enjoy the best of care, while I suffer all manner of ill treatment. I toil under the yoke by day, receive but a meager ration of beans and straw, and must lie at night in a filthy stall. You, by comparison, eat well and lie about at ease unless the master chooses to ride you into town, which happens seldom enough, and even then he returns with you straight-away."

"You fool," replied the donkey. "You could have an easier life, if you would only feign illness. When they next take you to your stall, fall to the ground, puff out your belly, and refuse to eat. This will surely bring a reprieve from your accustomed blows and toil."

The bull did as the donkey recommended and pretended to be sick. However, the master, who had overheard their conversation, responded by binding the wily donkey to the plow and forcing him to do the bull's work. The donkey, unaccustomed to such labor, suffered greatly under the yoke and the plowman's stick, while the bull enjoyed a day of rest. At day's end, the donkey, nearly dead from exertion and blows, came quickly to a new plan. "My friend," he said to the bull, "you have a bleak future if you do not soon recover your strength. I heard the master say that he intends to deliver you to the butcher, who will turn your flesh into meat for the poor and your hide into a leather mat." The husbandman heard this all.

The next morning the husbandman, accompanied by his wife, approached the bull in his stall. The beast gave a great show of health and vigor, whisking his tail, farting, and frisking lustily about. The master, greatly amused at the turn of events, broke into laughter.

"Why do you laugh?" asked his wife.

"I cannot tell you, lest I die." replied the man.

"So be it," answered the woman, "but I must know why you laughed." She continued to wheedle and to beg, until he, sensing that he could not forever resist her unrelenting pleas, resigned himself to his fate. He brought his affairs to order, then prepared to reveal his secret and to die.

Now the husbandman had some fifty hens, all serviced by one cock. The cock, lustily mounting one hen after the other, was interrupted by one of the farm dogs, who said, "For shame, that you thus satisfy your lust on this day that our master is to die."

The cock replied, "What sort of master do we have, who cannot manage a single wife? I control fifty hens."

"And what should the master do?" asked the dog.

"He should cut a branch from yonder mulberry tree then use it on her back and ribs until she repents. Then let him give her another beating for good measure, and henceforth he will sleep well and enjoy life."

The husbandman heard this conversation between the dog and the cock, and he took it to heart. He cut a branch from the mulberry tree and proceeded with it to his wife's room. Locking the door behind him, he announced that he was about to reveal his secret to her, but then began to beat her soundly about her back, shoulders, ribs, arms, and legs, all the while saying, "Are you ever again going to ask questions about matters that do not concern you?" Nearly senseless, she finally cried out, "I repent! With Allah as a witness, I will never again question you." She then kissed his hands and his feet, and he led her from the room as submissive as a wife should be. Her parents and other members of the family rejoiced at the turn of events.

Thus the husbandman learned family discipline from his cock, and he and his wife lived together the happiest of lives until they died.

Source: The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, translated by Richard F. Burton (Privately printed, 1885), v. 1, pp. 16-23.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

50 Years Old and still kickin.....

I turned 50 today.  Perhaps now I can get that dream mule or Mamouth Donkey to ride.  I just might have the smarts now. My Birthday is almost over.  Here is to another 40 to 50 years hauling hay and water!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Aesop's Fable: The Salt Merchant and His Donkey

A peddler drove his Donkey to the seashore to buy salt. His road home lay across a stream into which his Donkey, making a false step, fell by accident and rose up again with his load considerably lighter, as the water melted the sack. The Peddler retraced his steps and refilled his panniers with a larger quantity of salt than before. When he came again to the stream, the Donkey fell down on purpose in the same spot, and, regaining his feet with the weight of his load much diminished, brayed triumphantly as if he had obtained what he desired. The Peddler saw through his trick and drove him for the third time to the coast, where he bought a cargo of sponges instead of salt. The Donkey, again playing the fool, fell down on purpose when he reached the stream, but the sponges became swollen with water, greatly increasing his load. And thus his trick recoiled on him, for he now carried on his back a double burden.

The Saturday Profile A Global Journey, Relying on Kindness and a Donkey

A wonderful Donkey story is in the Sat. New York Times.  This is worth a read:

Friday, February 22, 2008

Somethin about a Mule.....

I put up a photo tonight of my best friend, Penny riding her mule Ruth. Mules are so amazing and so hardy. I am hoping to find a good saddle mule for myself in the next year or so as my Morgan mare gets close to retirement age. I am so fond of my donkeys I think its time to find a mount that is as steady and resilient as my burro pals, Sam and Willie. My Morgan is a great horse and I would not fault her but there is something about the brain of the mule that is just incredible. I have had a few good little mini-mules but nothing big enough for me to ride. There are certainly allot more mules out there to be had since I began buying long-ears back in 1985. I am hoping now is the right time for me to find that special riding animal. I turn 50 on Sunday and perhaps at the half century mark I am almost as smart as a mule.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

An old nursery rhyme

An old nursery rhyme for you today:

Donkey, Donkey,
Old and gray,
Open your mouth
And gently bray;

Lift your ears,
And blow your horn
To wake up the world
This sleepy morn.
Welcome to my Donkey Blog.  I keep donkeys and sheep here on my tiny farm in Western, NY. I have had at least one donkey on the place since about 1985.  Donkeys are the least understood of domestic animals and it's a shame really.  For me they are like a cross between a horse and a dog.  How much better can you get than that I ask you?

About Me

My photo
I grew up in Chautauqua County, NY. I graduated from Edinboro University of Pennyslvania in 1981 with a BFA in Jewelry and Metalworking. I have been married 31 years. I currently run a small business with my husband. We both enjoy the outdoors and animals a great deal and live on a tiny farm in Western, NY.